by Cathy Jones
‘Winkurra’ is a substantial two storey face brick Federation era house located on the corner of Florence Street and Elwin Street Strathfield. The house shows Federation Arts and Crafts style influences with complex hipped and gabled unglazed terracotta tiled roof.
‘Winkurra’ was built in 1906 for merchant Walter Verney Buzacott (1877-1950) and his wife Mildred (1881-1922). Mildred was the daughter of prominent Strathfield resident and tobacco merchant George Todman. The house was designed by prominent Sydney architect Charles Slatyer of the firm Slatyer and Shiels. Slatyer was Buzacott’s brother in law and designed many homes in Strathfield, particularly for members of the Todman family. Slatyer and his father-in-law George Todman developed a large estate in 1906 at Kensington, which covers most of the current suburb of Kensington. Some of streets in Kensington were named after Todman homes in Strathfield eg “Winkurra Street”, “Virginia” – home of Charles Todman, “Carminya” – home of Slatyer etc.
Walter V. Buzacott was the son of Walter Sewell Buzacott, of Buzacott & Co, which was established in 1849 as a ships chandlery by John Carr and Andrew Armstrong in the City. An ironmongery business was added when Armstrong’s son-in-law Walter Sewell Buzacott joined the business. The business was taken over in 1877 by Buzacott and in 1889, he was joined by his son E W Buzacott. The firm moved into engineering with the introduction of the Marine Oil Engine.
In 1900, Walter Verney Buzacott jointed the firm. Buzacott trained as an electrical engineer and went to America to gain experience in the Hercules Engine Works as Buzacott & Co had secured the Australian Agency. He returned to Australia in 1900 and launched the engineering business of Buzacott & Co Ltd. By 1905, Buzacott & Co was involved in Ironmongery, Ships Chandlery, Engineering, manufacturing of Metal Gates and Fences. A large factory and workshop was built at Mort’s Bay Balmain and the headquarters moved to Market Street Sydney.
In 1911, Buzacott & Co established operations in Queensland with a branch office and a gate and fence factory in Brisbane. Buzacott’s also moved into irrigation systems and began manufacturing of engines and pumps in Balmain, gradually reducing the need for imported goods. Other departments were added to provide for dairies, orchardists and agricultural supplies. In 1919, the company opened a large factory in Roseberry.
Walter V. Buzacott lived at ‘Winkurra’ from 1907 until c.1937. Buzacott married Mildred Hope Todman, who died in 1922 at a young age. Her father, George Todman, donated funds to the Western Suburbs Cottage Hospital Ashfield and built a wing of this hospital in her name [this hospital has since been demolished]. Walter Buzacott never remarried and died in 1950.
Walter V Buzacott was an Alderman on Strathfield Council [1916-1920].
In 1938, Buzacott sold the house to Edward Charles Glasson, a company director for £2752.15. Land had been previously been subdivided and sold from this site in 1935. In September 1938, Glasson sold the ‘Winkurra’ to David Combe, a manufacturer for £3250
Buzacott & Co Ltd, A short history of the House of Buzacott, 1921
Digby, E, “Walter Sewell Buzacott”, Men of Mark, 1888
Sands Sydney Directory for Strathfield
Strathfield Council Letter File 1910 (letter from Slatyer to Strathfield Council regarding building of the house)
Strathfield Council Notices of Land Transfers
Strathfield Council Valuation Lists 1908, 1917, 1930, 1939